Dearborn Heights restaurant stops dine-in service, says staff was treated 'rudely' over safety rules

A Dearborn Heights restaurant has closed its in-person dining service after several instances of rude treatment toward staff by patrons upset about safety policies put in place by the business.

In a Facebook post put up Sunday night Mexican Fiesta, located at 24310 Ford Rd. in Dearborn Heights, said it would return to only carry out service. There were "multiple situations" where "staff was disrespected and treated rudely."

In a follow-up interview Monday morning, one of their managers said daily incidences of customers unhappy with having to wear a mask was leading to tense interactions with staff. In one case over the weekend, law enforcement was even called.

"On Saturday night, we had to call police on one guy who was starting to get aggressive with me," said Sam Alvarado, who managers Mexican Fiesta. 

Alvarado said while some patrons didn't like having to wear a face mask, others were unhappy they had to wait for a seat outside the building, due to the restaurant's lobby being too small to accommodate social distancing rules for more than a few people.

Typically people would just leave the store after being refused service. But after Saturday's incident, managers made the decision to switch back.

"We just had to make a business decision and cease doing the dine-in service for now until we get a better system or get more people to man the door," said Alvarado.

"It is with a heavy heart we inform you that tomorrow Monday June 29th we will be closing our dine in service and returning to only carry out service. Unfortunately, there were multiple situations where our staff was disrespected and treated rudely. The safety of our customers and staff is our number one priority so we have made the tough decision of closing our doors to the general public until further notice," read the Facebook post that was put up Sunday night.

Alvardo said staff aren't sure what they'll do when they do reopen, but they "got to take a look at what to do to make this work for everybody."

The restaurant has already reduced capacity close to a third of its total seating. Patrons and staff were both required to wear a face mask and each table is sanitized after visitors complete their meal. Hand sanitizing locations were also placed strategically around the restaurant.

Like many restaurants that had closed during the pandemic, Mexican Fiesta had reopened a few weeks ago. Since then, business had been good. But that came with a double-edged sword, Alvarado said. 

"You have to make sure everybody is mitigating every risk possible so no one gets sick," he said. "You don't want families to get sick. We're just doing our part, keeping business going of course, families are relying on this business."

"But staff shouldn't have to take a risk that we're not willing to take," he added.

In retail and service sectors of the industry, it's typically workers that are enforcing face mask policies which have led to confrontations between staff and customers upset they have to wear a face-covering.

In early May, video surfaced of a customer wiping his nose on a Dollar Tree employee's shirt after she asked him to wear a mask.